A preliminary inquiry has been set in the first degree-murder and kidnapping of Amber Kirwan.
Christopher Alexander Falconer, 30, of Heathbell appeared in court today to set a date for a preliminary inquiry.
The convicted felon was charged May 16 of this year, after Kirwan went missing October 9, 2011 and her body was found November 5, 2011 in Heathbell.
The preliminary inquiry is set to being Monday afternoon, February 11, 2013 and will proceed full day Tuesdays, in the morning Wednesdays and full day Thursdays for a total of 15 days.
The preliminary inquiry is expected to run through February with a short break the first week of March and pick up again March 18 through March 28.
“We scheduled a preliminary inquiry and we’ve got it set over a period of about 6 weeks. Because of the time the court actually sits for, we’ve only got three sitting days per week … so that we could come up with a total of 15 sitting days,” said Falconer’s attorney Mike Taylor. “There are many, many witnesses, this was a highly circumstantial case. The Crown wants to make sure they have all the witnesses they need to come forward to give the evidence that they have to try to show if there’s going to be enough evidence to go to trial.”
To date, Taylor says to his knowledge he has received all of the evidence from the Crown attorney, Bill Gorman.
Gorman said the inquiry is quite lengthy because of the “nature of the evidence we anticipate to bring forward before the court, and you have to make sure that the requirements of a preliminary inquiry are met. We are seeking a committal for trial in Supreme Court.”
A plea has not been entered at this time because as Taylor said, “a plea would only be entered at the time a person’s actually in court for trial, in the case where someone has a preliminary inquiry they don’t … A plea is not actually entered until you are before the Supreme Court. We’re still before the provincial court right now and that’s where the preliminary inquiry is held. If there’s a committal to stand trial then it goes to Supreme Court and a plea in this case, because it would be a jury trial, would be entered in front of a jury.”
Gorman said, “It’s automatic judge and jury with a murder trial.”
Gorman expects if the preliminary inquiry leads to a trial, it will take place in Pictou, where the alleged offence occurred.
“I have no concerns regarding the tainting of a jury; basically the crime is alleged to have been committed in this jurisdiction so the trial would be held here. There are provisions in the criminal code where an application for change of venue can be made, but no such application has been made at this point.”
In terms of evidence, Taylor said, “I think I’ve got four binders right now, that doesn’t tell you a whole lot because within those binders I have a number of DVDs and CDs so… if everything was printed out and we had a hard copy of everything I’m sure it would equate to several boxes, banker’s boxes .”
Taylor said there’s not a lot of DNA evidence at this time, “There’s DNA evidence that’s been collected in relation to exhibits that were found all over the place during the investigation, some of which don’t have much to do with the involvement in my opinion, but they have to turn everything over regardless… to determine whether it’s going to be part or relevant to a degree … There is some DNA evidence but it’s quite circumstantial quite speculative in my opinion. As far as the rest of the circumstantial evidence, it’s timelines and statements from various witnesses (they) try to put different people in different locations at different times it’s just a case they have to build by adding block on top of block on top of block, it’s very circumstantial.”
The likelihood of the defence presenting evidence is very unlikely according to Gorman, and if it proceeds to trial as Taylor expects, it may last quite a bit longer than the inquiry.
As for a plea if it does go to trial, Taylor expects not guilty.
“Not guilty. There’s no doubt in my mind, not a question at this point at all.”
When asked why, he said, “because he’s not, that’s why I expect him to plead not guilty. I think the evidence at this point is not even close in my opinion, but time will tell. I don’t have a crystal ball and what’s on paper at this point doesn’t necessarily equate to what we see in court so that’s why we have a preliminary inquiry and then a trial.”
Falconer has been remanded to Dorchester Federal Penitentiary until the preliminary inquiry.